Height in Kibbe

How much we should stick to the height requirements when trying to find our Kibbe Image Identity by ourselves is a hotly debated topic in the Kibbe community. How much we should stick to the requirements when there are verified celebrities who fall outside of the range? Some take the approach of basically ignoring height completely. While I don’t think it should be completely rigid, I don’t really agree with this approach.

Height indicates scale. Types for taller heights wear larger things, and vice versa. So as a rule of thumb, chances are very high that you’ll end up in a type indicated for your height. I’d like to address a few questions about height that come up frequently, and answer them as I understand them.

1. [Celebrity] was put in [type] by Kibbe, and she [taller/shorter].
First off, I think we have to remember that when Kibbe wrote the book, he wasn’t thinking that in 30 years time, hundreds of women would be sitting around making spreadsheets about the height and bra size of every single celebrity. That kind of information wasn’t available back then on the level it is now. The celebrities he chose are meant to evoke a certain mental image and to give you an idea of what the type is like, not serve as the parameters of a type.

I think that he did knowingly do things like put celebrities over 5’5″ in FG. As a model, it was obvious that Twiggy was on the taller side. But she was so FG otherwise that it didn’t matter. And we do have real-life examples of FGs going up to 5’8″. (But I don’t think you could really get taller than that and not have your height be the most striking element of your appearance.) We also have the modern example of Christina Hendricks being Romantic. Christina is 5’7″, but she is absolutely “curves first.”


(Sources: 1, 2)

Basically, I think that if you are going to fall into a type where your height doesn’t fit, you need a really solid case otherwise. You need to be renowned for your angularity and mixed facial features to be a tall FG, or be famously curvy and clearly lacking SD’s D base to be a tall R.

2. I live in [country], where average height is [taller/shorter] than the US.
If we start making different charts for every country or group of people in the world, we’ll give ourselves a giant headache! But it’s not just laziness on my part. This is an easy one. If you live in a country with a lot of taller people, you’ll find more of the taller types. And vice versa. A Soft Gamine in New York City will be a Soft Gamine in Timbuktu. At 5’4″, there are countries where I would be maybe considered almost tall. But it doesn’t change the compact impression I give off.

3. People have gotten taller since the 80s.
This is probably true. But again, I would say that this means that, with more women who are taller with broader bone structures and larger feet, the taller types are simply becoming more common. It’s not that short people don’t exist anymore, even if it is harder now to find our tiny shoes!

So what should you do when it comes to height? I would look at the types that your height qualifies for first. If they all seem off, then I would begin to seriously consider the others. Are you a Twiggy or an Audrey who needs broken lines despite being tall? Are you a taller woman for whom SD just isn’t yin enough?

The requirements in the book represent the general tendencies you’ll see within a type. You can differ from the book description… as long as it doesn’t upset your yin/yang balance. For instance, I have a small waist, hands, and feet. My waist doesn’t need to be shown at all, and in fact, true waist emphasis isn’t flattering on me at all. My hands and feet don’t look delicate. They just look compact. So none of these things are enough to pull me out of FG. Height is the same. If your height truly doesn’t affect how the recommendations work on you, then you may be able to fit into a type outside of your height range. (But I think this happens less often than we think.)

I leave you with Mae West, a 5’0″ woman that Kibbe as mentioned as being SD. Bigger for her was certainly better, even if she was about half a foot shorter than the average SD. But she was truly an exception—which is why she made such a strong impression that we’re still talking about her, and a “Mae West type” is still a term that has meaning.

mae-west-hat
(Source)

21 Comments on Height in Kibbe

  1. Cory
    August 6, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    I find the scale aspect the most compelling argument for height being relevant. There’s a picture I saw on Pinterest a while back that cemented this for me – I didn’t save it unfortunately, but it’s an ad for some brand or other, and the model is clearly some G type, very childlike round features on an adult woman, pixie hair, button nose, yin mouth, but smallish and pursed, you know. Then the ad pairs her with the jewelry they’re selling: huge, lavish sparkly earrings. I think maybe the art director was going for the contrast of the soft girlishness and the lushness of the earrings, but it made me gasp because it just looks like a child playing dressup with her glamorous mother’s earrings: it highlights all of the things about the model that are not like the earrings and so detracts from her beauty rather than highlighting the way she is beautiful. I’d never understood the issue of scale fully before then. It also helped me realize that a lot of Kibbe or related systems are talking about scale using metaphor, if I really look at what is being talked about, it’s frequently talking about scale (of clothing, of accessories, of detail, of patterns, of hair and makeup even) matching the scale of the person.

    I do sometimes feel confused about the idea of tall SN types. People on the internet seem to be pretty sure that Jennifer Lawrence is an unusually tall SN, and I can see that, in that she’s tall and has body and face curves, but is not an SD type. And I can see that her expressed persona feels more SN, yes. But I wonder about scale! On a woman who’s 5’10” or so, does the delicate scale of say SN jewelry still work, because she’s SN and so the proportions of her physical self make that work? Or would a tall SN need to take the same jewelry elements and scale them up to avoid looking too big for her jewelry, as it were?

    I also sometimes feel confused about where the line between FN and SD is in real life. There are possible-SD types who seem more blunt than sharp to me, but too yin to be FN. This is an area where I do feel confused about population and Kibbe, because in some parts of Europe (Northern) I think you get a type of tall woman who definitely has a scale that can only be D, SD, or FN, but is too broad-shouldered to be D and too busty and hippy to be FN, so I think they can only be SD. But the energy they give off feels more sporty, natural, and less Diva Chic – broader hands and feet, more “fresh” rather than “seductive” or something. You know that graphic I think you’ve posted, that plots the types on a graph? I go around and around sometimes wondering there are Soft-Flamboyant Naturals, or if I’m just thinking about extremely tall SN types. Or something else!

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      August 6, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      For Gs, it’s not just small stature. It’s also the fact that a big, long earring will completely drag down our energy–same with long hair. That’s why we only are supposed wear earrings that hug the ear, either posts, small hoops, or the kind of the splay up the ear. FGs especially can wear substantial jewelry elsewhere. Delicate pieces disappear on me.

      So with jewelry, it’s not just height that’s a factor. You have to factor in where the eye needs to go, and the scale of the facial features. I know SDs who are around the minimum for the type where it is as plain as day that any earring under 2 or 3 inches long and an inch or so wide would absolutely disappear on them. Barbra Streisand is a short SD, for example. She can do SD-scale jewelry because her facial features are so large.

      When you get to Jennifer Lawrence, I looked her up and I couldn’t find a single photo of her with jewelry that really approached FN’s scale of jewelry, let alone SD. She has small facial features. In photos, she’d only come across as tall if you put her with someone else. (Also, Kibbe believes that pretty much all actresses are lying about their height anyway!) With Taylor Swift, I think this really comes across http://www1.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Taylor+Swift+Jennifer+Lawrence+39th+Annual+kold19iFG_fl.jpg Taylor is definitely legitimately tall, and it comes across in every photo of her, whether she’s in the picture with someone else or not.

      I don’t think you should have to alter the scale of the jewelry to make it work. That’s why something like a short SD comes around so rarely. You have to legitimately need everything to be huge and over the top.

      Re: Scandinavia, Kibbe has said there are a lot of SDs there, but frankly, I wonder how much time he’s really spent in that corner of the world. He may just be basing it on the Swedish celebrities of his youth, like Anita Ekberg. But anyway, I think you can find a lot of FNs who are curvy. But it’s usually within a frame of broad shoulders, like this: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/d8/9a/eb/d89aebc8d984afd9969f18f461e9fade.jpg SD would do her no favors. She has these curves, but she doesn’t have to show them. You can see it in the faces, too–Ns have flatter and/or friendly and open faces compared to people with a D base. http://redcarpetroxy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Wendie+Malick+25th+Anniversary+Genesis+Awards+z5xj056l1kMl.jpg Jane Leeves I would say is FN, and Wendie Malick D. Especially when she was younger, it was hard to see the FN width in Jane, but her face is so open.

      As far as tall SNs versus FN, in the end, I think you may have to use clothes and jewelry to test it. Does this person need soft emphasis of curves, or a long flowing line?

      Reply
      • Cory
        August 6, 2015 at 11:18 pm

        Very interesting, thinking of size of facial features, that makes sense. And interesting about earrings hugging the ear for G! Fascinating, thanks. About size of features, I have been looking at pictures of Kibbe-verified SDs and wondering if there’s something about needing the hair to be mostly off the face so their features don’t feel crowded. I suppose that would then be right for the SD type, if their features are bigger than the typically smaller SN features, for instance. It has been very hard for me to understand the Kibbe idea of “how tall you seem”, but now I think your example of Jennifer Lawrence is helping me to understand. Yes, by herself, without others for scale, she does not seem that tall!

        I did not know that about Kibbe and Scandiavia. Like you, I am not so sure about lots of SDs in the north. It has confused me to think about Kibbe’s ideas of SD vs FN, because I see Anita Ekberg’s femme fatale energy+curves as being different than tall curvy ladies who feel sporty, but I had thought that for Kibbe, they ought to be in SD. On the other hand, I don’t think SD styles are a very northern value sometimes. So I have also wondered if you see a lot of SD ladies who are masquerading as FN and feeling “too fat”, when they are just too curved for the long boho lines they are trying to wear. I think of women who wear a lot of long linen tunics that are not as good on them as draped jersey would be. But the draped jersey might feel too dramatic and “sexy” for them so they avoid it.

        Hmm, I am somehow feeling even less sure of my Kibbe understanding than when I started, haha!

        I have read Rachel Nachmias on Pinterest saying that there is a strong (but not absolute) connection between yin/yang levels and high or low hip. Is that your sense also? I have definitely seen tall women with busty/hippy hourglass figures with high shelf-type hips (sometimes people say figure-8 shape) in northern European countries. As compared to a longer yang torso, which is figure type I can see more as FN. So then I think, if it is true that high hip is a yin-er thing, they must be pushed more toward SD, further from FN? But is that enough to override the energy of not being a “diva”? It is hard to see SD in some cultures for me when the dominant aesthetic is more camping, less opera. I must go re-read the article you wrote that talked about energy, I think!

        Reply
        • stylesyntax
          August 6, 2015 at 11:37 pm

          I was just discussing this on Facebook, and someone mentioned that it may just be that there are more SDs there than there are in the US. Which makes sense, because the people are taller, so you’ll have more of all of the tall types, not that the majority of Swedish women are SDs. But one of the curviest women from the online Kibbe community who went to see Kibbe was given FN, so I don’t think having curves are an FN dealbreaker. It’s all about whether they upset your yin/yang balance–whether you need to show them off for clothes to be flattering on you. Here’s a Pinterest dedicated to verified curvy FNs: https://www.pinterest.com/catyrosesummer/curvy-flamboyant-naturals/

          I don’t agree with Rachel. Yes, I think that among Rs, you’ll find the curvy high hip. But with TR, you seem to have both. I also have a high hip, but it’s a very yang high hip. I think Rachel’s system has to be taken as her own thing, not Kibbe, because there are some real differences in the way they have seen people. For instance, she put Rihanna in her yangG and Kibbe said she is TR. Huge difference there!

          Reply
          • Marie
            October 15, 2016 at 4:06 am

            Adding my two cents about hipline here – I have seen other forums recently that talk about Rachel N’s opinions on hips, and I also disagree with her. She suggests that the widest point on yin types is around the actual hip and that on yang types it’s down in the upper thigh area. That seems to contradict everything I’ve ever seen/heard. My mother, for example, is very much N, likely FN actually. And her widest point is up high, near the belly button. Then there’s me – I have yin curves, without a doubt (not sure of kibbe type or whatever), and my widest measurement for hip area is at the bottom of my butt…which is what makes my bottom half rounded and curved.
            I don’t know if this is related to the height of hips, but it’s something I wanted to add.

          • stylesyntax
            October 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm

            Oh, whatever Rachel says has no relevance for Kibbe at all. Women she puts into YangR David has put into FN. There is no commonality between the two and the way they practice could not be more different 🙂

    • Dianne
      August 19, 2015 at 3:55 am

      You have expressed my thoughts exactly!! I’m of half Swedish heritage.I am one of those types. I am exactly a classic in description except my legs are long, I’m 5’9 and all of my height is in my legs, I have a 34+inseam. If I sat talking to you at a table you’d say “whoa” when I stood up if you didn’t know me. I look perfectly average sized.
      My face is definitely that of a soft classic.

      When you say, “But the energy they give off feels more sporty, natural, and less Diva Chic – broader hands and feet, more “fresh” rather than “seductive” . I relate!
      My hands are small and delicate but broad. ( Size 4.5 ring finger)
      I have been putting together looks that are a mixture of classic/ soft classic clothes style with a more casual sporty feel, (think Grace Kelly meets Cindy Crawford) and then using the accessories of a flamboyant natural. The response has been so positive!

      Thank you Cory and Style syntax for this
      wonderful post!

      Reply
      • stylesyntax
        August 23, 2015 at 7:18 am

        I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you! It is all really about the vibe we give off, isn’t it?

        Reply
  2. Chiara
    August 7, 2015 at 12:50 am

    Cory, I think the other thing to bear in mind is the way that coloring (as defined by seasonal palette) and style type interact. So someone who has spring or summer-type coloring and who is an SD may not have the same “feel” of say an autumn SD (think of Sophie Dahl vs Sophia Loren). Sophie Dahl will wear more fragile colors and fabrics, compared with the richness of color that Sophia Loren or Maria Callas could balance. This may be part of why Scandanavian SDs feel so different.
    As for FN and SD, I think you have to get your head around D as the base and how that differs from N as a base. I’ve had a go exploring that here https://www.pinterest.com/chichiara/sd-low-contrast/

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      August 7, 2015 at 2:22 am

      Season is very important when it comes to how we perceive vibe. That’s why I think people bring up “angelic.”

      Reply
    • Cory
      August 8, 2015 at 4:33 am

      The season/color connection is a very good thing to point out. I hadn’t been thinking of that.

      Kibbe is like an onion for me! I peel back a layer and realize I still don’t understand it very much. I will explore your board, thank you. I am realizing that I must not have a firm understanding about the difference between the D and N bases. I don’t think I understand the difference between the the blunt yang of FN and the bold yang of SD… hmmmm. Back to the onion!

      Reply
    • ithinklikeme
      August 26, 2015 at 8:30 pm

      I very much agree with all of this differentiation between seasonal variations within SD, or any type, in general!

      Reply
  3. Shawna
    August 25, 2015 at 12:06 am

    This is a particular topic re Kibbe that very much interests me. I am 5’9″ but there is nothing sharp or dramatic about me. I am definitely a soft natural and even flamboyant natural or soft dramatic are too yang for me. My overall appearance is predominantly soft and if my waist were slightly smaller and my height shorter I’d be a romantic. I also rock a soft wavy pixie cut so I guess I am just a rebel. 🙂

    Reply
    • Cory
      August 26, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      I find this so interesting. Can you tell me how you decided on SN? I am so confused about tall-but-curvy people right now and realizing that I don’t understand their Kibbe. I just don’t understand when a tall-curvy woman would be SD or be a curvy FN, or a very tall SN. Random question: do you find as per the above that as a tall SN, you still stick to the guidelines about jewelry being very delicate? And do you find that small florals work on you, and you don’t overwhelm them and look “big”?

      Questions for everyone: Would you guys say that all Dramatics are fundamentally sharp yang/visually dramatic, and all Naturals are fundamentally blunt/broad yang, and then the Soft or Flamboyant variants are tweaks of that fundamental underlying “sharp vs broad” idea?

      I am so confused by the difference between a Soft Dramatic and a tall Soft Natural woman! Can anyone shine some light on how to tell the difference?

      Kibbe on SD (from the internet, I don’t have the book):
      *Dramatic with a Romantic undercurrent
      *NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Soft Dramatic. It is the overall combination of bold Yang with a pronounced Yin undercurrent that creates this Image Identity category. Therefore, slight deviation here or there is always possible and should not be worried over if it does not upset your Yin/Yang balance of a bold, exotic physicality that is combined with a powerful sensual essence.
      *Your position on the Yin/Yang scale is: bold Yang with a pronounced Yin undercurrent.
      *Physically, your bone structure is large and angular (Yang), but it is softened by a fleshy body type and full facial features, particularly evident in your large eyes, and full lips (Yin). Innately, you are bold, charismatic, and creative (Yang), while at the same time you are also sensual, charming, and receptively accommodating (Yin). Overall, Yang is definitely dominant; Yin is secondary. Both are present in your essence, and both must be visually expressed for your appearance to be accurate and exciting. Just make sure you keep them in proper order.

      Kibbe on SN:
      *Natural with a Romantic undercurrent
      *NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Soft Natural. It is the overall combination of the very soft Yang with a Yin undercurrent (slightly soft and fleshy body type on an angular frame combined with an appealing innocent essence) that creates this Image Identity category. Therefore, slight deviation here or there is always possible and should not be worried over if it does not upset your Yin/Yang balance.
      * Your position on the Yin/Yang scale is: Soft Yang with a Yin undercurrent.
      *Physically, you are basically angular in bone structure, although this is softened by a fleshy body type and full facial features (eyes, lips, cheeks). Innately, you are spontaneously direct, open, logical, fresh and totally unaffected, although this is softened by an artistic sensitivity and a radiant charm that is wonderfully appealing.

      So breaking that down into the elements, this is what I hear:

      SD
      *Dramatic with Romantic undercurrent
      *Bold Yang
      *Pronounced Yin undercurrent
      *Large and angular bone structure
      *Fleshy body type
      *Full facial features
      *Powerful sensual essence

      SN
      *Natural with Romantic undercurrent
      *Soft Yang
      *Yin undercurrent
      *Angular bone structure
      *Fleshy body type
      *Full facial features
      *Appealing innocent essence

      So both types have: angular bone structure, softened by fleshy body types and full facial features. The difference seems to be the relative degrees of Yang (bold vs soft), and relative degrees of Yin (pronounced vs less pronounced), usual body height (larger vs smaller), and those then wind up contributing to what we perceive as the differencing essences (powerfully sensual vs appealingly innocent – would you say, as a casting stereotype, you’re talking about “seductive, powerful woman” vs “girl-next-door sexy”)?

      Would you guys say that is right? So then I come back to: what would be the difference between someone who is an unusually tall SN, and a SD? I think I am really hung up on the difference between SD’s “bold Yang/large and angular bone structure” and a tall SN’s “soft Yang and angular bone structure” that is naturally somewhat large because she’s tall. At that point, would it come down to the “feel”, whether you sense that the person’s “essence”/vibe is more appealingly innocent or more sensual? Or is it more like their relative Yang sharpness or bluntness? I find this confusing, because it seems to me that some tall SN types, with their Natural underpinning, seem narrower through the shoulders, for instance, than some SD types, with their sharp/Dramatic underpinning.

      Sorry if this is the longest and most basic question ever, sometimes you have to circle way back to understand something! ;p

      Reply
      • stylesyntax
        August 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm

        I think it is actually pretty easy to distinguish between a tall and curvy SN (who would be an exception) versus an SD. Think of Jennifer Lawrence, who is supposedly 5’9″. In no way would you ever mistake her for an SD.

        Where I think people get confused more often is between curvier FNs and SDs. The difference in vibe between SN and SD is so great that I just don’t think you can mix them up!

        Reply
      • Shawna
        October 4, 2015 at 4:53 am

        Hi Cory, sorry I am so late replying to you. I am probably just as confused as you are and really don’t fit easily into any Kibbe category. I keep trying to answer your questions and then deleting what I’ve written. In the end I don’t think finding my kibbe type exactly is as important as what I have learned as I explored the types. It’s easy to get hung up on terms and trying for exact matches. Despite my height I just do not fit into any of the dramatic categories in any other way so I’ve ruled them out. I go back and forth between SN and SC and seem to dress myself in a hybrid of the two with dashes of gamine so either I am a hot mess or I’m very creative. 😉 I have learned to trust my taste and my judgement. I dislike statement necklaces and no amount of telling me it’s right for me would make me wear one. I rock a pixie cut and I rarely wear heels. I suit neither fussy details nor sharp tailoring and angles. I look silly in small florals but fine in a small dot if the colour contrast is low. I look best in blended, muted colours and patterns, a suggestion of a waist but no cinching. Trial and error, taking photos and trusting my instincts has been more helpful than anything. I am probably a soft classic body/face with a soft natural vibe and a mischievous streak. I simply cannot go on body/face lines alone.

        Reply
  4. Shawna
    September 20, 2015 at 2:27 am

    I’m a month late to this convo-sorry. I believe I am one of those taller exceptions. The dominant thing about me is that I am soft. I have all the features of a soft classic except that I am 5’9″. There is nothing dramatic about me at all and nothing sharp or broad. My shape, colouring, personality and features-all soft and more balanced than not. Secretly I would like to be gamine or soft natural. 🙂

    Reply
  5. Sarina
    March 15, 2018 at 3:44 am

    Hello, I would love it if you could guide me on what type I am? I am a bit less than 5 feet. But my figure though it leans a bit towards a pear shape when I put on weight, I am a mix of soft classic and soft romantic. My hands and legs are slim and delicate, I am curvy on top and bottom though it’s balanced, long necked and small gentle faced. How perplexed am I that I can’t figure out where I belong?!

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      March 15, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      Something like “pear-shaped” doesn’t mean anything in Kibbe, and you can’t be a mix of Soft Classic and Romantic. Try to understand what your overall impression is.

      Reply
  6. Roka
    August 1, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Actually the height thing confused me so much that when I tell a friend about kibbe I advice them to ignore it complelty at first.
    I am 5’1 (158 cm) but I look classic not gamine, I know it’s not an extreme case like the ones you mentioned but people saying “consider your height first” really confused me.
    I also can’t figure out which classic I am.

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 7, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      Short can be anything. It’s tall where your height automatically rules things out.

      Reply

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